What do I pack in my hospital bag for labour?
It’s never too early to pack your suitcase. Here’s our list of must-haves to see you through the first exciting days in hospital...

What to pack for mom

  • A smallish suitcase, so it won’t be in the way.
  • Comfy pyjamas. Pack 2 or 3 sets (and keep them in dark colours because you’ll bleed a bit more heavily than usual). You’ll want a button-down top or dress if you’re going to breastfeed, and if the bottoms have an elastic band around the waist, make sure it’s soft and much higher than your pubic hairline in case you’re having a C-section.
  • Dressing gown and slippers. Even in summer... those floors aren’t always as clean as they look! In winter, stuff a cosy pair of socks in the bag as well.
  • A firmly fitting bra to hold the breast pads in position (your nipples will become leaky soon!). You may choose to buy a proper feeding bra only once your milk comes in and your breasts are engorged (around day 3 or 4)
  • Some comfy clothes, such as a tracksuit, in case you’d like to change during the day.
  • A going-home outfit – but not a sexy pre-pregnancy number! Your bump won’t magically melt away immediately, so bring something you wore when you were around 6 months pregnant, and flat shoes.
  • 2 packs of maternity pads (long ones, if you can get hold of them).
  • 4 disposable panties (your hospital may sell these). They’re nice and soft against the skin for caesarian scars, and will help you not to worry about leakage.
  • Disposable linen savers. Optional, but very handy.
  • Breast pads, disposable or washable.
  • Facecloth so your birth partner can wipe your face while you’re doing the hard work.
  • Lip balm is always handy while huffing and puffing.
  • Snacks and bottled water to keep you (and your birth partner) going while in labour. If you’re booked for a caesarian and can’t eat beforehand, you’ll be glad you have a snack on hand a few hours later when you’re ready to eat.
  • Breath fresheners, such as peppermints.
  • Your own pillow, if it’ll make you feel better. It will also help with breastfeeding.
  • Toiletries and a touch of make-up (for the photos!). Consider buying non-perfumed body wash and lotion and leave your perfume at home, so baby can get to know your real mommy smell.
  • Pen or pencil. You may be asked to fill in forms.
  • Camera and extra batteries (if yours uses a charger, remember the two-point plug adapter).
  • Cellphone, charger, and a list of phone numbers to share the joy!
  • Leave all jewellery at home – it’s not allowed in theatre anyway.
  • Your birth plan.
  • Your medical aid card and the main member’s ID book.

What to pack for baby

  • 2 packs of disposable nappies
  • Barrier (bum/nappy) cream
  • 1 bottle surgical spirits
  • Cotton wool
  • Sensitive baby wipes (although cotton wool and water work just as well)
  • 1 pack of baby ear buds to clean the cord stump
  • 3-5 receiving blankets (these are thin, cotton blankets, not thick woolly ones)
  • Newborn vests and babygros, washed and dried at home. If you’re having a Caesarian, you’ll stay over in hospital for 3 nights. Bring enough baby clothes for a few changes a day!

Things to find out

  1. It’s a good idea to contact the hospital to see whether they have a list or certain requirements – you may be required to bring your own pillow or towel, for instance.
  2. How much cupboard space will be available to you?
  3. What are the visiting hours?
  4. Are flowers allowed, and if so, how many bunches?
  5. Can you register your baby’s birth at the hospital? Find out from the ward secretary what you’ll need.
  6. Does the hospital offer a service of sending out notification emails with a baby pic to friends and family? If so, sign up in advance.

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